Her youthful looks belie her age and she has a vigour that matches the children under her care. Her name is Dorothy Loke. And she is the longest – serving employee at the Villamaria Good Shepherd Kindergarten in Kuala Lumpur. Twenty-five years of service! What a testimony of her commitment to the Good Shepherd mission! Still her association with the institution goes back even further.
At the age of five, her mother passed away. Dorothy and her siblings were split up. There was a lot of change and uprooting in her life. She was raised and educated at different places. However, at age 13, she was sent to the Good Shepherd Home in Ulu Klang where she continued her studies at the Vocational School. It was here, for the first time, that her life took on some form of permanence and stability.
“I witnessed the kindness of the nuns and fully appreciated their kindness to me, Sr. Ita was the Mother Superior then, and they all treated me like family,” she recounted. This kindness led Dorothy, upon completion of their studies, to work at the Good Shepherd Convent in Jalan Ampang. As an assistant teacher, Dorothy also helped out in the canteen, bookshop and the office.
When the Villamaria Good Shepherd Kindergarten was opened in 1978, Dorothy was part of the pioneering team sent to get the kindergarten up and running. She proudly said, “It was an exciting time. I wanted to repay the kindness of the nuns. I was willing to do anything and everything to help make the kindergarten a success.”
Dorothy took a three-year break to raise her daughter. She rejoined the kindergarten in 1984. Twenty-five years on, she still committed to the Good Shepherd mission, working as an assistant teacher and still “ready to do anything and everything as long as I am needed”, she quipped.
When I asked Dorothy what had sustained or motivated her loyalty all these years, she looked a little perplexed, then simply said, “This is my family. I have children of my own, but this is my family too. We have our ups and downs like any family. We may disagree, but the next day, everything is OK. I have a lot of joy working here. And there’s a lot of laughter, too!
~ Debbie Leon ~